CHAPTER 1

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the doppler effect caused by a moving target allows a radar to separate .... needed for pulse compression and for coherent systems such as moving-target.

CHAPTER 1 AN INTRODUCTION TO RADAR Merrill I. Skolnik

1.1

DESCRIPTIONOFRADAR

The basic concept of radar is relatively simple even though in many instances its practical implementation is not. A radar operates by radiating electromagnetic energy and detecting the echo returned from reflecting objects (targets). The nature of the echo signal provides information about the target. The range, or distance, to the target is found from the time it takes for the radiated energy to travel to the target and back. The angular location of the target is found with a directive antenna (one with a narrow beamwidth) to sense the angle of arrival of the echo signal. If the target is moving, a radar can derive its track, or trajectory, and predict the future location. The shift in frequency of the received echo signal due to the doppler effect caused by a moving target allows a radar to separate desired moving targets (such as aircraft) from undesired stationary targets (such as land and sea clutter) even though the stationary echo signal may be many orders of magnitude greater than the moving target. With sufficiently high resolution, a radar can discern something about the nature of a target's size and shape. Radar resolution may be obtained in range or angle, or both. Range resolution requires large bandwidth. Angle resolution requires (electrically) large antennas. Resolution in the cross-range dimension is usually not as good as the resolution that can be obtained in range. However, when there is relative motion between the individual parts of a target and the radar, it is possible to use the inherent resolution in doppler frequency to resolve in the cross-range dimension. The cross-range resolution of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for imaging a scene such as terrain can be explained as being due to resolution in doppler, although a SAR is usually thought of as generating a large "synthetic" antenna by storing received signals in a memory. The two views—doppler resolution and synthetic antenna—are equivalent. Resolution in the doppler domain is a natural way to envision the cross-range resolution achieved by the inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) used for the imaging of a target. Radar is an active device in that it carries its own transmitter and does not depend on ambient radiation, as do most optical and infrared sensors. Radar can detect relatively small targets at near or far distances and can measure their range with precision in all weather, which is its chief advantage when compared with other sensors. The principle of radar has been applied from frequencies of a few megahertz

(HF, or high-frequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum) to well beyond the optical region (laser radar). This is a frequency extent of about 1 billion to 1. The particular techniques for implementing a radar differ greatly over this range of frequencies, but the basic principles remain the same. Radar was originally developed to satisfy the needs of the military for surveillance and weapon control. Military applications have funded much of the development of its technology. However, radar has seen significant civil applications for the safe travel of aircraft, ships, and spacecraft; the remote sensing of the environment, especially the weather; and law enforcement and many other applications. Radar Block Diagram. The basic parts of a radar system are illustrated in the simple block diagram of Fig. 1.1. (Other examples of radar block diagrams can be found throughout the handbook.) The radar signal, usually a repetitive train of short pulses, is generated by the transmitter and radiated into space by the antenna. The duplexer permits a single antenna to be time-shared for both transmission and reception. Reflecting objects (targets) intercept and reradiate a portion of the radar signal, a small amount of which is returned in the direction of the radar. The returned echo signal is collected by the radar antenna and amplified by the receiver. If the output of the radar receiver is sufficiently large, detection of a target is said to occur. A radar generally determines the location of a target in range and angle, but the echo signal also can provide information about the nature of the target. The output of the receiver may be presented on a display to an operator who makes the decision as to whether or not a target is present, or the receiver output can be processed by electronic means to automatically recognize the presence of a target and to establish a track of the target from detections made over a period of time. With automatic detection and track (ADT) the operator usually is presented with the processed target track rather than the raw radar detections. In some applications, the processed radar output might be used to directly control a system (such as a guided missile) without any operator intervention. ANTENNA DUPLEXER

POWER AMPLIFIER

WAVEFORM GENERATOR

LOW-NOISE AMPLIFIER LOCAL OSCILLATOR

MIXER

IF MATCHED AMPLIFIER FILTER

SECOND DETECTOR

VIDEO AMPLIFIER

DISPLAY

FIG. 1.1 Simple block diagram of a radar employing a power amplifier transmitter and a superheterodyne receiver.

The operation of the radar is described in more detail, starting with the transmitter.

Transmitter. The transmitter (Chap. 4) in Fig. 1.1 is shown as a power amplifier, such as a klystron, traveling-wave tube, crossed-field amplifier, or solidstate device (Chap. 5). A power oscillator such as a magnetron also can be used as the transmitter; but the magnetron usually is of limited average power compared with power amplifiers, especially the klystron, which can produce much larger average power than can a magnetron and is more stable. (It is the average power, rather than the peak power, which is the measure of the capability of a radar.) Since the basic waveform is generated at low power before being delivered to the power amplifier, it is far easier to achieve the special waveforms needed for pulse compression and for coherent systems such as moving-target indication (MTI) radar and pulse doppler radar. Although the magnetron oscillator can be used for pulse compression and for MTI, better performance can be obtained with a power amplifier configuration. The magnetron oscillator might be found in systems where simplicity and mobility are important and where high average power, good MTI performance, or pulse compression is not required. The transmitter of a typical ground-based air surveillance radar might have an average power of several kilowatts. Short-range radars might have powers measured in milliwatts. Radars for the detection of space objects (Chap. 22) and HF over-the-horizon radars (Chap. 24) might have average powers of the order of a megawatt. The radar equation (Sec. 1.2 and Chap. 2) shows that the range of a radar is proportional to the fourth root of the transmitter power. Thus, to double the range requires that the power be increased by 16. This means that there often is a practical, economical limit to the amount of power that should be employed to increase the range of a radar. Transmitters not only must be able to generate high power with stable waveforms, but they must often operate over a wide bandwidth, with high efficiency and with long, trouble-free life. Duplexer. The dupiexer acts as a rapid switch to protect the receiver from damage when the high-power transmitter is on. On reception, with the transmitter off, the dupiexer directs the weak received signal to the receiver rather than to the transmitter. Duplexers generally are some form of gas-discharge device and may be used with solid-state or gas-discharge receiver protectors. A solid-state circulator is sometimes used to provide further isolation between the transmitter and the receiver. Antenna. The transmitter power is radiated into space by a directive antenna which concentrates the energy into a narrow beam. Mechanically steered parabolic reflector antennas (Chap. 6) and planar phased arrays (Chap. 7) both find wide application in radar. Electronically steered phased array antennas (Chap. 7) are also used. The narrow, directive beam that is characteristic of most radar antennas not only concentrates the energy on target but also permits a measurement of the direction to the target. A typical antenna beamwidth for the detection or tracking of aircraft might be about 1 or 2°. A dedicated tracking radar (Chap. 18) generally has a symmetrical antenna which radiates a pencil-beam pattern. The usual ground-based air surveillance radar that provides the range and azimuth of a target generally uses a mechanically rotated reflector antenna with a fan-shaped beam, narrow in azimuth and broad in elevation. Airborne radars and surfacebased 3D air surveillance radars (those that rotate mechanically in azimuth to measure the azimuth angle but use some form of electronic steering or beamforming to obtain the elevation angle, as discussed in Chap. 20) often employ planar array apertures. Mechanical scanning of the radar antenna is usually quite acceptable for the vast majority of radar applications. When it is

necessary to scan the beam more quickly than can be achieved with mechanical scanning and when high cost can be tolerated, the electronically steered phased array antenna can be employed. (Beam steering with electronically steered phased arrays can be accomplished in microseconds or less if necessary.) The size of a radar antenna depends in part on the frequency, whether the radar is located on the ground or on a moving vehicle, and the environment in which it must operate. The lower the frequency, the easier it is to produce a physically large antenna since the mechanical (and electrical) tolerances are proportional to the wavelength. In the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) band, a large antenna (either reflector or phased array) might have a dimension of 100 ft or more. At the upper microwave frequencies (such as X band), radar antennas greater than 10 or 20 ft in dimension can be considered large. (Larger antennas than the above examples have been built, but they are not the norm.) Although there have been microwave antennas with beamwidths as small as 0.05°, radar antennas rarely have beamwidths less than about 0.2°. This corresponds to an aperture of approximately 300 wavelengths (about 31 ft at X band and about 700 ft at UHF). Receiver. The signal collected by the antenna is sent to the receiver, which is almost always of the superheterodyne type (Chap. 3). The receiver serves to (1) separate the desired signal from the ever-present noise and other interfering signals and (2) amplify the signal sufficiently to actuate a display, such as a cathoderay tube, or to allow automatic processing by some form of digital device. At microwave frequencies, the noise at the receiver output is usually that generated by the receiver itself rather than external noise which enters via the antenna. The input stage of the receiver must not introduce excessive noise which would interfere with the signal to be detected. A transistor amplifier as the first stage offers acceptably low noise for many radar applications. A first-stage receiver noise figure (defined in Sec. 1.2) might be, typically, 1 or 2 dB. A low-noise receiver front end (the first stage) is desirable for many civil applications, but in military radars the lowest noise figure attainable might not always be appropriate. In a high-noise environment, whether due to unintentional interference or to hostile jamming, a radar with a low-noise receiver is more susceptible than one with higher noise figure. Also, a low-noise amplifier as the front end generally will result in the receiver having less dynamic range—something not desirable when faced with hostile electronic countermeasures (ECM) or when the doppler effect is used to detect small targets in the presence of large clutter. When the disadvantages of a low-noise-figure receiver are to be avoided, the RF amplifier stage is omitted and the mixer stage is employed as the receiver front end. The higher noise figure of the mixer can then be compensated by an equivalent increase in the transmitter power. The mixer of the superheterodyne receiver translates the receiver RF signal to an intermediate frequency. The gain of the intermediate-frequency (IF) amplifier results in an increase of the receiver signal level. The IF amplifier also includes the function of the matched filter: one which maximizes the output signalto-noise ratio. Maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio at the output of the IF maximizes the detectability of the signal. Almost all radars have a receiver which closely approximates the matched filter. The second detector in the receiver is an envelope detector which eliminates the IF carrier and passes the modulation envelope. When doppler processing is employed, as it is in CW (continuous-wave), MTI, and pulse doppler radars, the envelope detector is replaced by a phase detector which extracts the doppler frequency by comparison with a reference signal at the transmitted frequency.

There must also be included filters for rejecting the stationary clutter and passing the doppler-frequency-shifted signals from moving targets. The video amplifier raises the signal power to a level where it is convenient to display the information it contains. As long as the video bandwidth is not less than half of the IF bandwidth, there is no adverse effect on signal detectability. A threshold is established at the output of the video amplifier to allow the detection decision to be made. If the receiver output crosses the threshold, a target is said to be present. The decision may be made by an operator, or it might be done with an automatic detector without operator intervention. Signal Processing. There has not always been general agreement as to what constitutes the signal-processing portion of the radar, but it is usually considered to be the processing whose purpose is to reject undesired signals (such as clutter) and pass desired signals due to targets. It is performed prior to the threshold detector where the detection decision is made. Signal processing includes the matched filter and the doppler filters in MTI and pulse doppler radar. Pulse compression, which is performed before the detection decision is made, is sometimes considered to be signal processing, although it does not fit the definition precisely. Data Processing. This is the processing done after the detection decision has been made. Automatic tracking (Chap. 8) is the chief example of data processing. Target recognition is another example. It is best to use automatic tracking with a good radar that eliminates most of the unwanted signals so that the automatic tracker only has to deal with desired target detections and not undesired clutter. When a radar cannot eliminate all nuisance echoes, a means to maintain a constant false-alarm rate (CFAR) at the input to the tracker is necessary. The CFAR portion of the receiver is usually found just before the detection decision is made. It is required to maintain the false-alarm rate constant as the clutter and/or noise background varies. Its purpose is to prevent the automatic tracker from being overloaded with extraneous echoes. It senses the magnitude of the radar echoes from noise or clutter in the near vicinity of the target and uses this information to establish a threshold so that the noise or clutter echoes are rejected at the threshold and not confused as targets by the automatic tracker. Unfortunately, CFAR reduces the probability of detection. It also results in a loss in signal-to-noise ratio, and it degrades the range resolution. CFAR or its equivalent is necessary when automatic tracking computers cannot handle large numbers of echo signals, but it should be avoided if possible. When an operator is used to make the threshold decision, CFAR is not a necessity as in limitedcapacity automatic systems because the operator can usually recognize echoes due to clutter or to increased noise (such as jamming) and not confuse them with desired targets. Displays. The display for a surveillance radar is usually a cathode-ray tube with a PPI (plan position indicator) format. A PPI is an intensity-modulated, maplike presentation that provides the target's location in polar coordinates (range and angle). Older radars presented the video output of the receiver (called raw video) directly to the display, but more modern radars generally display processed video, that is, after processing by the automatic detector or the automatic detector and tracker (ADT). These are sometimes called cleaned-up displays since the noise and background clutter are removed. Radar Control. A modern radar can operate at different frequencies within its band, with different waveforms and different signal processing, and with different polarizations so as to maximize its performance under different environ-

mental conditions. These radar parameters might need to be changed according to the local weather, the clutter environment (which is seldom uniform in azimuth and range), interference to or from other electronic equipment, and (if a military radar) the nature of the hostile ECM environment. The different parameters, optimized for each particular situation, can be programmed into the radar ahead of time in anticipation of the environment, or they can be chosen by an operator in real time according to the observed environmental conditions. On the other hand, a radar control can be made to automatically recognize when environmental conditions have changed and automatically select, without the aid of an operator, the proper radar operating parameters to maximize performance. Waveform. The most common radar waveform is a repetitive train of short pulses. Other waveforms are used in radar when particular objectives need to be achieved that cannot be accomplished with a pulse train. CW (a continuous sine wave) is employed on some specialized radars for the measurement of radial velocity from the doppler frequency shift. FM/CW (frequency-modulated CW) is used when range is to be measured with a CW waveform (Chap. 14). Pulse compression waveforms (Chap. 10) are used when the resolution of a short pulse but the energy of a long pulse is desired. MTI radars (Chaps. 15 and 16) with low pulse repetition frequencies (PRFs) and pulse doppler radars (Chap. 17) with high PRFs often use waveforms with multiple pulse repetition intervals in order to avoid range and/or doppler ambiguities.

7.2

RADAREQUATION

Perhaps the single most useful description of the factors influencing radar performance is the radar equation which gives the range of a radar in terms of the radar characteristics. One form of this equation gives the received signal power Pr as

^ = £§X4^X^

(M)

The right-hand side has been written as the product of three factors to represent the physical processes taking place. The first factor is the power density at a distance R meters from a radar that radiates a power of Pt watts from an antenna of gain Gt. The numerator of the second factor is the target cross section a in square meters. The denominator accounts for the divergence on the return path of the electromagnetic radiation with range and is the same as the denominator of the first factor, which accounts for the divergence on the outward path. The product of the first two terms represents the power per square meter returned to the radar. The antenna of effective aperture area Ae intercepts a portion of this power in an amount given by the product of the three factors. If the maximum radar range /?max is defined as that which results in the received power Pr being equal to the receiver minimum detectable signal Smin, the radar equation may be written . PtGt A6(T R4m*x = ' 2 (4TT)Xn

(1-2)

When the same antenna is used for both transmitting and receiving, the transmitting gain Gt and the effective receiving aperture Ae are related by Gt = 4TrAJX2, where X is the wavelength of the radar electromagnetic energy. Substituting into Eq. (1.2) gives two other forms of the radar equation:

^* - jSrr

vfTr; ^ mm

a.3«)

Mna* = £&T 41TA. ^ min